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How to Backup Windows 11 to Cloud Before Reinstall

by Gaurav Bidasaria
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Windows 11 OS offers several ways to back up and restore your computer completely. But we will focus on cloud backup in this guide. This means all your apps, Windows settings, browser history, and locally stored files, everything will be backed up to the cloud before you reinstall or format your Windows 11 computer. Here’s how to back up Windows 11 to the cloud completely.


There are some conditions that you need to meet before taking a backup of your Windows 11 computer entirely in the cloud.

  • All the apps, settings, etc. will be synced to your Microsoft account and OneDrive account. So make sure you are signed in to your Microsoft account. You cannot use a local account to take a backup in the cloud.
  • You will need a stable internet connection to sync everything. Use Wi-Fi if there is a lot of data on your Windows 11 computer that needs backing up.
  • OneDrive account offers 5GB space in the free version. You may need to upgrade if more storage space is needed. However, Microsoft offers different plans and they are worth it, especially if you use Microsoft Office.

Backup Windows 11 to Cloud From Settings

This is the fastest and best way to back up Windows and all the data and apps that you have installed on your Windows 11 computer.

1. Press Windows+I to open Settings.

2. Using the search bar, find and open Backup and Sync your settings option.

backup and sync option in windows settings

3. The first thing Windows will ask you to back up is data to OneDrive which includes files and folders on your Windows 11 computer. Click on Manager sync settings.

manage sync settings of onedrive on windows 10/11

4. You will see a list of default folders, with storage space they take, that comes pre-created on Windows 11. Select the ones you want to back up. Then click on Start backup. Close the OneDrive window when sync is complete.

back up folders to onedrive on windows

5. There is also a dedicated OneDrive folder that is created when you install the OneDrive app. You have the option to create this folder in any drive. Any file or folder you save or move to the OneDrive folder will be uploaded and stay in sync with OneDrive. So move all the files and folders to OneDrive that you want to back up to the cloud on Windows 11.

Note: You can’t choose folders or files outside the OneDrive folder to back up. You must move them to the OneDrive folder.

onedrive folder in windows 10/11

6. Moving back to Settings, enable Remember my apps. Windows will back up a list of all apps that you have installed on the current device. Now when you reinstall Windows and sign in using the same Microsoft account, all these apps will be reinstalled automatically.

back up apps on windows 10/11 using settings

7. Click on Remember my apps to expand it. Here, you can enable options to back up Accessibility, Passwords, Language preferences, and Other Windows settings.

back up passwords, settings, language preferences, etc. in windows 10/11

That’s it. Your data, apps and other Windows 11 settings are backed up to your OneDrive and Microsoft accounts. Now you can easily restore and sync these settings and files after reinstalling.

Note: All your Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. files can be backed up to OneDrive as well. If you have a Microsoft 365 account, you can create, edit, and save these documents directly in the cloud and sync them to your Windows 11 computer as and when needed.

Restore Windows 11 Settings and Files After Reinstall

Microsoft has made it really easy. All you have to do is sign in with your Microsoft account, the same one that you used to back up settings and apps, and everything will be restored automatically to your Windows 11 PC.

You will be asked to enter your Microsoft account id and password during the installation or setup part. If not, you can do it from Settings > Accounts > Your info and then select Sign in with a Microsoft account instead option.

sign in using your microsoft account on windows 11

Similarly, when you install the OneDrive app, all the files and folders will be restored automatically too. Everything is tied to your Microsoft account which makes it really easy to back up and restore Windows 11 from the cloud.

Important Note: You may be asked to enter your BitLocker key during the reinstallation process. Here is how you can easily find your BitLocker recovery key on your Microsoft account using a browser.


1. What really happens when you reset your Windows 11 computer?

We have a separate guide that covers everything that will happen after resetting your Windows computer.

2. Can I back up Windows to the cloud while signing in using a local account?

No. You need to be signed in using a Microsoft account to back up data and settings to the Microsoft account. If you are using a local account, you can use an HDD/SSD to back up files and folders manually.

3. What about my browsing history and bookmarks in Chrome/Edge browser?

If you are signed into your browser using your Google account on Chrome and Microsoft account on Edge, then simply sign back in to sync all the data. Sync is enabled by default on both unless you have turned it off manually.

4. What if I want to back up offline to my external hard drive?

That is a separate process that we will cover in another post soon.

Windows in the Cloud

Microsoft has covered all their tracks. In Windows 11, you can easily back up everything to your OneDrive and Microsoft account in the cloud before you reinstall your computer. All your apps, files, settings, browsing data, and even language preferences are backed up. All you have to do is sign in to your Microsoft account and everything will sync in due time.

Do you have photos stored on your Windows computer? You can choose between Google Photos or OneDrive. Learn how they differ.

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